This week your policy team spent several days in Oxnard at the California Coastal Commission meeting. We were there, as we are each and every month, to push for permitting and planning decisions that are most protective of coastal resources.
Most noteworthy this month was an enforcement case against the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica. The developers here had proposed to tear down a low cost hotel and replace it with another low cost hotel and were permitted as such. Instead, they built a luxury, high cost hotel in direct violation of the California Coastal Act.
You see, low cost overnight accommodations are a very important part of equitable public access to the coast for all Californians, a right that the Coastal Act defends. If folks can’t afford to stay at high cost hotels, how can they visit the coast from farther away places such as inland locations? The Coastal Commission is working hard to protect the state’s last remaining low cost hotels and that’s what this was all about.
In the end, the Coastal Commission fined the developers $15 million in a consent cease and desist order. The Coastal Commission subsequently heard a coastal development permit where the applicant is proposing to keep the hotel as is, and pay an additional ~$8 million in mitigation fines. Surfrider and other groups opposed this permit as it sends the message that a developer can pay their way out of complying with the Coastal Act. Moving forward, the developer needs to come up with a creative way for a more direct one-to-one mitigation such as development of another low cost hotel in the nearby vicinity.
The Inertia highlighted a few important points made during the hearing. “‘This fine stands for the rule of law and no one is above the law,” said Jack Ainsworth, executive director of the Coastal Commission in a statement. “Coastal access is a right in California and hopefully this sends a message that this commission will not tolerate this kind of activity.’
North Coast Highway 101 Corridor
“The commissions’ vote to recommend staff postpone the hearing came after it received a number of letters from North Coast individuals and organizations requesting the move. Surfrider Foundation California Policy Manager Jennifer Savage also addressed the commission during its public comment period.
Savage said the project — which seeks to spend roughly $35 million to build a new interchange at Indianola Road, replace the Jacoby Creek Bridge, add a stoplight at Airport Road and close all other medians on the roughly 7-mile stretch of highway — is complex and decades in the making.
‘Our community really deserves a chance to weigh in,’ Savage said, before charging that Caltrans’ plans have so far failed to analyze the impacts construction will cause to alternate routes, like Old Arcata Road and State Route 255 through the Samoa Peninsula.
Savage also criticized the project’s review for not addressing projected sea level rise, and charged that Caltrans’ public engagement efforts have been inadequate.”
That’s all for this week! Check back next Friday for another weekly update